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Brewers nip Pirates 3-2

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Freddy Peralta dominates Bucs

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates
Freddy Peralta might just be too good to take out of the rotation
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

WP: Freddy Peralta (2-0); LP: Jameson Taillon (4-6); Save: Corey Knebel (7); Homeruns: Mil - Jesus Aguilar (14); Pit - Starling Marte (9)

Box Score - it’s just good enough

The Milwaukee Brewers (43-30) almost wasted a great start by rookie Freddy Peralta tonight...but not quite. The Pittsburgh Pirates (36-37) pared a 3-0 Brewer lead into the bottom of the seventh down to 3-2 against the Crew’s bullpen but Corey Knebel put down the Bucs in the bottom of the ninth to nail down Peralta’s second win of the season.

Last night Pittsburgh’s Trevor Williams handcuffed the Brewers after pitching poorly for several starts. Tonight Jameson Taillon was coming off three very good starts and the Brewers jumped on him right away. Lorenzo Cain topped an infield single down the first base line, and one out later Jesus Aguilar launched a two run bomb to the right centerfield bleachers for a 2-0 lead.

Cain and Aguilar combined for the Brewers third (and final) run in the top of the third. LoCain had his second infield hit, and after Christian Yelich lined out to left Aguilar smoked a double down the leftfield line, scoring Cain all the way from first.

Peralta was at least as impressive in tonight’s start as he was in his first in Colorado against the Rockies. He had much better command - that probably cut down on his strikeouts (seven tonight against thirteen vs the Rockies), but in six innings he allowed just two singles and no walks. Both hits came in the fourth; he would have had five perfect innings if not for a dropped flyball in deep right center by Eric Thames for a first inning two base error. Thames did manage to catch four flyballs, so he got better. In fact, the Pirates had no groundball outs until there were two out in the fifth - at that point they had struck out six times and made outs in the air eight times.

Probably the major point in Peralta’s start was in that fourth: with one out and two on Freddy fell behind 3-0 to Francisco Cervelli. Cervelli swung 3-0 and hit an easy pop-up into short centerfield to Cain. Peralta then struck out Josh Bell to finish the frame.

With that 3-0 lead Milwaukee went with Dan Jennings in the bottom of the seventh. After the first two went down easily, Bell fouled off several tough two strike pitches and walked. Gregory Polanco then did the same and singled to right on the ninth pitch he saw. Craig Counsell went with his fireman Jeremy Jeffress, and for the second night in a row Jordy Mercer doubled off of one of the Brewers best relievers to score the Pirates’ first run. The Bucs had the tying runs at second and third and tough lefty Austin Meadows pinch hitting. A 2-2 nasty split finger got strike three to end the threat. That’s three inherited runners allowed to cross the plate in JJ’s last two outings.

Jeremy also had the eighth. With two down Starling Marte guessed fastball on the first pitch, got a fastball on the first pitch, and hit that fastball into the same bleachers that Aguilar found earlier. 3-2 Brewers.

Once again a Brewer reliever got the first two out in an inning before allowing a baserunner. In the bottom of the ninth, Knebel struck out Cervelli and got Bell on a fly to left. He walked Polanco on five pitches, setting up more drama with Mercer. This time a top Brewer reliever came out ahead, as Knebel fanned Jordy on a two-two fastball to seal the win.

Notes:

Manny Pina had his first career triple with one down in the second, a drive into right center that a lunging Marte couldn’t quite catch up to. The ball caromed off of Marte’s glove towards right field and the Pineapple beat the throw into third.

Pina’s triple was a part of a Brewers’ team cycle in three innings off of Taillon - Cain’s single (well, two of them) and Aguilar’s double and homer completing the cycle.

After a lead-off single by pinch hitter Eric Sogard (yup, really) leading off the top of the seventh, the next five hitters struck out and then the next four made out for another weak finish for the team at the plate.

The broadcast team gave lots of credit to Pina for Peralta’s success tonight, and I agree...but the poise shown by Peralta tonight was impressive for a 22 year old rookie.

Craig Counsell announced after the game that Peralta will get another start this Sunday against the Cardinals.

The deciding game of the three game set comes tomorrow night at PNC Park. Brent Suter (7-4, 4.30) looks to get Milwaukee into a winning streak heading into a four game set at Miller Park against the Cardinals. The Pirates counter with righty Chad Kuhl (5-4, 3.76).

After losing game one of a day-night double header to the Dodgers, the Cubs are in extra innings in the nightcap.